Accessibility links

Breaking News

Blair Vows to Give No Ground to Terrorists

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made an impassioned appeal for international solidarity against terrorism, saying no ground should be given to terrorists, such as those who have recently attacked London's transit system.

Mr. Blair says there can be no excuse or justification for terrorist attacks, whether it be in response to the war in Iraq or for any other cause. And he told a news conference the world must stand up to the terrorist threat. "I do not believe we should give one inch to them," he said. "Not in this country, and the way we live our lives here. Not in Iraq. Not in Afghanistan. Not in our support for two states, Israel and Palestine. Not in our support for the alliances we choose, including with America. Not one inch should we give to these people."

Mr. Blair went on to say his views changed permanently after the 2001 attacks against the United States, but he says much of the rest of the world has been docile.

"September 11th, for me, was a wake up call. Do you know what I think the problem is?" he asked. "A lot of the world woke up for a short time and then turned over and went back to sleep again."

There has been commentary, both inside Britain's Muslim community and out, that London was attacked on July 7 by four British Muslim suicide bombers because of Britain's involvement in the Iraq war.

Mr. Blair calls such suggestions an "obscenity," given the level of terrorist activity across the Muslim world. "If it's concern for Iraq, why are they driving a car bomb into the middle of a group of children and killing them?" he said. "Why are they, every day in Iraq, trying to kill people whose only desire is for their country to become a democracy? Why are they trying to kill people in Afghanistan? Why are they trying, every time Israel and Palestine look as if they could come together in some sort of settlement, they go and wreck it? Why are they killing people in Turkey? What's their excuse there? Or in Egypt? Or in Saudi Arabia? They will always have a reason."

On a related issue, Mr. Blair said he favors a new law that would allow police to hold suspected terrorists without charge for up to three months. Current law gives police 14 days to question suspects before they are either charged or released.

Mr. Blair spoke after a meeting with leaders of the opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties on new anti-terror legislation parliament will consider later this year.

Other suggested new laws would make it a crime to incite terrorism, preach religious hate, and train in how to use explosives.